President will yield to SC on Trillanes

Published September 9, 2018, 4:26 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Genalyn Kabiling, Francis Wakefield, and Rey Panaligan

President Duterte is prepared to respect the ruling of the Supreme Court (SC) on a petition questioning the validity of his proclamation that voided the amnesty granted to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

The President, however, said that if the SC affirms the legality of his proclamation, he would let the military deal with the former rebel soldier.

President Duterte is prepared to respect the ruling of the Supreme Court on a petition questioning the validity of his proclamation that voided the amnesty granted to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, in his arrival speech at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Davao City on September 8, 2018, runs down the different agreements that the Philippines have reached during the official visits to the State of Israel and Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. (ACE MORANDANTE/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO)

“Nandiyan na sa Supreme Court (It’s in the Supreme Court) I leave it at that. If the Supreme Court would say that my declaration, proclamation is null and void, then let it fall,” Duterte said during a press conference in Davao City after arriving from his trip to Israel and Jordan last Saturday.

“But then pagka – if I’m affirmed or sustained, then it’s the military now. Sila man ang last hold. Sino man ang naghawak sa kanya last? Eh ‘di sa kanila, eh ‘di bahala sila kung ayaw nilang tanggapin (They had the last hold. Who held him last? It’s the military so it’s up to them if they don’t want to accept it),” he added.

Trillanes earlier asked the SCto nullify the President’s Proclamation No. 572 that revoked his amnesty and authorized his prosecution and detention over involvement in two military uprisings.

The senator, who has denounced Duterte’s order as political persecution, has argued that the proclamation violated his rights to due process and equal protection.

It also supposedly violated the rule on double jeopardy since the courts have dismissed the cases against him.

The President recently declared that amnesty given to Trillanes as “void ab initio” since he failed to meet its minimum requirements including admission of guilt for 2003 Oakwood mutiny and the 2007 Peninsula Manila hotel siege.

In deference to the judicial process, Duterte also decided to wait for the regional trial court to issue an arrest warrant against Trillanes instead of authorizing his military arrest.

In his remarks last Saturday, the President maintained that the amnesty granted to Trillanes by the previous administration was “defective” and “fatally flawed.”

Will SC issue TRO?

The High Court is set to tackle tomorrow the petition filed by Trillanes who pleaded to nullify Proclamation No. 572.

In his petition, Trillanes pleaded for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) that would stop the implementation of the proclamation and the enforcement of the arrest and detention orders.

SC lawyers, who requested anonymity, said only the plea to nullify the proclamation may be acted during tomorrow’s full court session, and the High Court may require the Executive Department to comment on or answer the petition.

They said that due process dictates that the side of the Executive Department and all those included as respondents in the petition have to be heard on the issue.

On the plea for a TRO on the arrest and detention, the lawyers said the issue has not become justiciable since no arrest order has been issued by any court and, as a consequence, Trillanes has not been arrested.

Trillanes has been holed up in his Senate office since last Tuesday when the proclamation revoking his amnesty was made public.

Legal scenario

In expressing their view on the arrest of Trillanes, the SC lawyers banked on President Duterte’s pronouncement that the senator would not be arrested without an arrest order from the court.

But they said the legal scenario in tomorrow’s full court deliberation on Trillanes’ petition may change should Branch 150 of the Makati City regional trial court (RTC) issue today (Monday, September 10) or tomorrow morning (Tuesday, September 11) an arrest order pleaded by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in a motion filed last Friday.

The SC’s full court session every Tuesday normally starts at 10 a.m.

The new motion, filed before the sala of Judge Elmo Alameda, was in connection with Trillanes’ participation in the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege.

The DOJ motion cited that the rebellion case in connection with the hotel siege has not reached the trial stage when the trial court handed down an order on Sept. 7, 2011 granting the appeal of Trillanes to dismiss the charge as a result of the 2010 Proclamation No. 75 that granted him amnesty, including others involved in the two incidents – the 2003 Oakwood mutiny and the 2001 hotel siege.

Earlier, the DOJ had filed a similar motion before Branch 148 of the Makati City RTC where the case involving the Oakwood mutiny was filed.

But RTC Judge Andres Soriano did not act immediately on the plea for the issuance of a warrant of arrest and a hold departure order (HDO) against Trillanes.
Judge Soriano required Trillanes to file his answer and set a hearing on the DOJ motion on September 13.

‘Amnesty legit’

For his part, the former chair of the Ad Hoc Committee that granted amnesty to Trillanes and other Magdalo members said yesterday that he did his job meticulously, contrary to claims made by the government.

In an interview, former Department of National Defense (DND) Undersecretary for Defense Affairs and Amnesty Committee Chairman Honorio S. Azcueta said that the granting of amnesty to Trillanes was not flawed.

“I can honestly say that as Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Amnesty I conscientiously did my job in accordance with the Proclamation 75 and its rules,” Azcueta said.

Azcueta, at the same time, said that Trillanes applied for amnesty and there was admission of guilt on his part. “Obviously. That’s why on records he was granted Amnesty,” Azcueta said

He added that the only difference of Trillanes’ application of that of the other grantees is “Their narrations of their participation in the incidents may be different.”

Military stance

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff said the military submits to the majesty of the SC and yields to its wisdom as it tackles the petition filed by Trillanes against Proclamation No. 572.

General Carlito Galvez Jr. said that in deference to the SC that has taken cognizance of the case, “we will not anymore comment on its merits as we hope other parties would follow suit.”

At the same time, Galvez said that the AFP remains strong as an organization and they are not divided as some may have claimed.

He also warned those who are sowing lies and trying to divide the AFP that they will not succeed with their plans.

“Let me belie claims by some quarters of divisiveness or rumblings in the AFP. I assure our people that, as in many times in the past, the AFP will be united and strong as an organization,” Galvez said.

“Let me then, as the AFP Chief of Staff, take this occasion to warn persons who or groups that attempt to divide the AFP by sowing intrigues and discord among its Officers and Enlisted personnel. You will not succeed,” he added.